The Welsh Government is increasing the amount of funding for the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF) so it can support the calls for financial help from people across Wales.
As the stay-at-home restrictions continue, families have been turning to the fund for additional support to help them with some of the financial pressures and challenges they are facing.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James has called on the UK Government to make urgent changes to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to help protect more people in hardship and provide faster help to those who need it.
Announcing the additional funding for the DAF, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said:
Coronavirus is having a dramatic impact on people’s and family finances with claims for Universal Credit and calls on the DAF at a record high.
These are some of the most vulnerable people in our society, who, through no fault of their own, find themselves facing a significant change of circumstances. It’s only right that we do all we can to protect them from extreme financial pressure.
The funding I am announcing today will help us support as many people as we can through this period of financial hardship.
The DAF provides grant funding to support people experiencing extreme hardship. Many of people will be the most vulnerable in society due to issues relating to poverty, physical and mental health issues and are therefore at greater risk from the impacts of coronavirus.
Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James has written to the UK Government urging it to change Discretionary Housing Payments. These are available to people in receipt of Housing Benefit and Universal Credit, but they have to wait at least five weeks to receive it.
People who are not entitled to either of those two benefits, but are on reduced incomes due to coronavirus, have no entitlement to the payments.
The Minister is calling on the UK Government to make a permanent change to give all Universal Credit claimants entitlement to DHP from the date of their claim, rather than waiting for five weeks.
She also wants a temporary change to give those people who are not in receipt of these benefits but are facing difficulties meeting housing-related costs as a result of coronavirus access to DHP.
Ms James said:
I’m very concerned tenants in the social and private rented sector may face difficulties meeting housing costs in the face of reduced incomes during the current crisis.
We are, of course, encouraging individuals and households to seek support through Universal Credit and the range of government schemes, but many still face financial difficulty and we need to do as much as possible to support them. I have therefore asked the UK Government to consider these changes as a means of delivering both immediate and longer term vital support for low income tenants.